Millrose Legend John Thomas Passes [Updated]
Updated: With service arrangements below.
John Thomas — who passed away Tuesday at the age of 71 — created one of the most enduring moments in Millrose Games as a 17-year-old back in 1959 by becoming the first man to clear 7-feet in the high jump indoor. He was a freshman at Boston University at that time.
"That was my No. 1 most memorable moment in Millrose history," said Howard Schmertz, the long-time director of the event. "It brought the house down. It was the loudest roar I ever heard at the Garden. Any sport."
It would be the start of a meteoric rise for Thomas, who would clear that barrier nearly 200 times in his career, including three outdoor world records. He quickly became the favorite to win the 1960 Olympic gold medal, but had to settle for bronze. Four years later in Tokyo he earned silver, losing out on the gold to rival Valeriy Brumel. An enormous part of that rivalry was that it took place at the height of the Cold War.
"It was probably the most dramatic rivalry in the history of track & field," said Dr. Norbert Sander, executive director of the Armory Foundation.
Thomas would continue a life-long connection to Millrose as an official. The high jump event at Millrose now bears his name. He was in attendance last February when the Games moved uptown to The Armory.
Services will be celebrated in the Temple Adventiste (235 Court Street in Brockton, Mass.) Tuesday, January 22nd at 7 pm. Cremation to follow. John's family will be receiving friends from noon to 7 pm. Everyone is cordially invited to attend.